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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump Asks Supreme Court To Intervene In Mar-A-Lago Docs Fight; U.S. Death Toll From Hurricane Ian Climbs To 106; Ukrainian Forces Push Through Front Lines In East, South; U.S. Response To Iran Expected To Include Sanctions On Those Directly Involved In Crackdown On Protests; White House Tries To Stop OPEC Countries From Cutting Oil Production; Prosecution Presents Its Case On Day 2 Of Oath Keepers Sedition Trial. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 04, 2022 - 16:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And I thought the only beef was whether he was going to retire or not retire. I didn't know they were at this point. And I do think that's sad.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Yeah. Well, she said they were living kind of separate lives for a while now over the last season. You hate to see it. We'll see where it goes, though.

CAMEROTA: If those two crazy kids can't make it work, let's pray for them.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Breaking news: Trump is apparently going all the way to the top when it comes to that FBI search of Mar-a-Lago.

THE LEAD starts now.

Just coming in, Donald Trump asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the case of those classified documents found at his Mar- a-Lago estate.

Plus, the damage is so bad, Florida authorities can barely make out where property is, let alone search the property. And rescue missions are now recovery missions. Six days after Ian, crews cannot confirm who is still missing and who might be alive, with food now being airdrop to areas cut off by the storm.

And secret plans by the Oath Keepers exposed. Audio recordings of the far-right militia group revealing what prosecutors call a plot to reverse the will of the American people and keep Trump in office using force.


TAPPER: Welcome to the lead. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we begin with that breaking news. President Trump asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene over the seizure by the FBI of documents from his home at Mar-a-Lago. The latest shocking development in this legal battle after FBI agents searched his home in August and seized more than 100 classified documents.

Trump's request is to ask the Supreme Court to reverse the 11th Circuit court ruling. That ruling, of course, gave the Justice Department access to review those classified documents recovered from Trump's Florida estate.

Trump's request, the latest example of the president seeking to involve the nation's highest court in investigations into him in order to stop them.

Let's bring in CNN's Jessica Schneider, as well as Joan Biskupic.

Jessica, what do we know about the presidents filing?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that the president pretty much lost about two weeks ago on the 11th Circuit when they overturned part of the district court order. Now, what he's doing is he's going to the Supreme Court on appeal here. But he's doing it on a very limited basis. He's asking the Supreme Court to only vacate part of what the 11th Circuit said, because he wants the special master to continue reviewing those 100 classified documents.

That's pretty much all that is at stake in this appeal. He's telling the Supreme Court, we want the special master to be given the ability to review these 100 documents that are classified, something that the 11th Circuit took the power away from the special master about two weeks ago from doing. So, it is very limited. The lawyers for Donald Trump here are saying that the 11th Circuit never even have the power to review this district court order as to this particular issue. So, now, they're asking the Supreme Court to step in here.

It really was Donald Trump's last breath of hope here and he's doing it on a very limited basis in the hope that the Supreme Court will take his side and once again allow the special master's review to continue. I mean, he said that they should be vacated with the 11th circuit -- it impairs substantially the ongoing time sensitive work of the special master. Remember, the special master has a limited amount of time. It was extended into December. They want but the special master to be able to get his hands on the classified documents, something you can't now do.

TAPPER: Joan, do you think the Supreme Court has any desire to get involved in this?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Actually, no, Jake, just in terms of the atmospherics. You know, the opening line of Donald Trump's application to the Supreme Court refers to the administration of his political rival. He puts the politics on the table right away. And it's just two days ago, we had this long conversation about the court trying to regain its legitimacy, not wanting to be embroiled in politics.

So, you've got that atmosphere here for starters. Let me just talk about the mechanics of what we will see next. I think they probably would not want to go and at this point. But, you know, this is still a legitimate request that the former president has made. The justices are likely, over the next couple of hours or days, to ask the Justice Department to respond. What does it say to this request? And then, it takes five votes to grant the request.

Now, there is a conservative super majority on this court. But, do they want to weigh in at this point? They do want to -- there are so many other parts of the story that are still developing. The 11th Circuit and the special master -- would they come in? I think it's an open question.

I really think at this time, when they are starting their own terms, dealing with cases like voting rights that they heard today, do they want all Trump back on their doorstep, likely not. But that's not what it will come down to.


It will come down to whether they think reading this -- if they don't intervene in any way, will there be harm? Will there be legitimate harm that they should offset?

TAPPER: Is this unprecedented?

SCHNEIDER: Well, remember the last time Donald Trump went to the Supreme Court?


SCHNEIDER: Which is earlier this year when he wanted to block some of his White House records from going to the January 6 Select Committee. In that case, the Supreme Court said, no, we're not going to step in here. We're not going to overturn what a lower court decided.

So, it could be a similar short and sweet order that we get from the courts, saying no, we will not step in at this point. That's pretty much what they did when we sought appeal from Donald Trump several months ago. So, that might be how it plays out.

BISKUPIC: It could play out that way. We will need to see, first of all, what we get from the Justice Department and a final response from the Trump administration. And maybe this could all be over by the end of the week.

TAPPER: Right.

BISKUPIC: We just don't know yet, given this court and given these arguments.

TAPPER: In terms of previous fights between presidents and other branches of government, Nixon took it to the Supreme Court to not have to overturn the tapes. That was in the court -- ruled against him. Did Bill Clinton's challenges ever get there?

BISKUPIC: Well, we had -- with Paula Jones. TAPPER: Right. Did that go to the Supreme Court.

BISKUPIC: Yes, yes.


BISKUPIC: And the Supreme Court ruled against Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones case, allowed things to go forward for the civil suit.

This is so granular. This is not of that magnitude. But because it is Donald Trump, who is just not going away, and at this time, when everything is so polarized, it is a larger deal, even though I would never compare it to the tape's case, although, you know, even though we do have national security interest here. But the tapes case and the Paula Jones/Bill Clinton case are of a different magnitude.

TAPPER: Can I just say, they're probably skeptics out there who hear you saying, I don't think the court wants to intervene in this politically, and think, this court is doing whatever the hell it wants to do.

BISKUPIC: Well, and they would be right to counter me on that. You know?


TAPPER: All right. Jessica Schneider, and John Biskupic, thanks to both of you.

Let's bring in Elie Honig. He was the assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York.

Elie, what is Trump's argument here?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Two primary arguments here. The first one was sort of procedural and jurisdictional. He says that the ruling from the district court, establishing the special master, that was not a final ruling of a court. That was not a this side or that side wins. So, they argue that the appeal was an interlocutory appeal, meaning an appeal while the game is in progress essentially. And therefore, Donald Trump is arguing to the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals never should've heard this in the first place.

The second thing Donald Trump is arguing is that the district court judge, Judge Cannon, who establish the special master, that was within her discretion. She did not overstep her discretion and abuse her power in ordering the special master. So, the 11th circuit court of appeals got it wrong.

So, those are the two main arguments Trump makes in his brief.

TAPPER: How long -- so Joan said that probably over the next day, they will ask the Justice Department to respond. And then, the question becomes for the court, to decide whether there are five of them, five justices, who want to take up this case? How long is this whole thing going to take just before we find out whether the Supreme Court is going to take the case?

HONIG: Well, Joan is right, of course. This will move quickly. This will be a matter of days or maybe weeks at the most. It's important to understand, we are and what is sometimes called the shadow docket here. This is the emergency application.

This is not the standard sort of Supreme Court briefing on full cases that we are seeing starting this week, when the party spent months and months to submit their briefs. And another few months pass. There's sort of this grand ceremonial argument of the court. Then you wait until the spring or summer for a ruling.

That is the normal full merits docket. Here, we're on the emergency docket, the shadow docket. So, things will move more quickly here than what we are used to.

TAPPER: Does Trump have legal ground to stand on?

HONIG: Well, he has reasonable arguments that he makes in the brief. I think his jurisdictional argument is decent. I think he has a fair argument that the district court judge, maybe a person can agree or disagree with her, but she was within her broad discretion as a trial court judge to appoint a special master.

I agree with Joan. My instinct is that it's unlikely that the Supreme Court touches this. I'd be surprised if the Supreme Court takes it up. It's politically fraught. They don't always rule in Donald Trump's favor. Yes, they've been unpredictable, but they've also denied Donald Trump many times over when it comes to his tax returns, when it comes to his election challenges and as Joan has said, on the National Archives executive privilege case.

So, it would surprise me a bit of the Supreme Court takes this case up, but it will be up to them. Do they have the five votes for it is really the question.

TAPPER: As a bit of lawyering, what do you think of what Trump's lawyers filed? The reason I ask is because former President Trump has run the gamut when it comes to quality of attorneys throughout his career.


Throughout his time as an adult, he has had some of the most embarrassing ambulance chasers and conspiracy theorists that live. And he has also had some very impressive litigators. What do you make of this argument?

HONIG: Well, I did take a look at the brief just now, Jake. And it's a decently well-done brief. It's not one of the more embarrassing pieces of legal work that have been submitted on Donald Trump's behalf.

But I think if you're laying out for your client, the way you phrase it is, you lost. You lost at the 11th Circuit. And again, we're only talking about 100 classified documents here. There will still be -- there still is, a special master. That special master still needs to go through the 10,900 other documents.

But the way I would phrase it to my client's, with respect to these 100 classified documents, you've lost. Now, either accept that and move on, or your only remaining outlay to challenge it is to try to get up to the Supreme Court.

So, do you want to roll the dice with the Supreme Court or do you want to accept the loss that you took at the 11th Circuit?

TAPPER: He is not big on accepting loss. Not sure if you knew that.

Elie Honig, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Up next, the rescue efforts and Florida have now turned into recovery mode.

And the White House is responding when pressed today about protests in Iran and President Biden's recent elevated tone.

Plus, the calculated pressure campaign at the White House aimed to keeping gas prices down just in time for the midterm elections. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Now to our national lead, the death toll from Hurricane Ian is rising to 106. We are beginning to see the faces of those whom the storm took.

Michelle Harris Miles (ph) was in Fort Myers Beach celebrating her 40th birthday. She wasn't a vacation rental when the storm hit. Water flooding the home pushed towards the ceiling, which collapsed upon her.

Another victim of the storm, Elizabeth Maguire. She was found dead in her bed in Cape Coral, clutching herself cellphone. These tragedies come as Florida is trying desperately to recover from widespread damage.

CNN's Carlos Suarez is Fort Myers where people are lining up to get that needed aid.


CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The need for help in Florida, immediate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of our food at the house went bad.

SUAREZ: At one food distribution site in north Fort Myers, the line of cars grew by the hour.

The Cajun Navy Foundation on the ground in Florida for days, handing out crucial supplies for residents without basic services. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got diapers. And there's water, food.

SUAREZ: Thousands so far have been rescued from destroyed or flooded homes with harrowing stories of survival.

STAN PENTZ, HURRICANE IAN SURVIVOR: I got pushed away, and I went around the building. I was able to find some bushes and I grabbed onto it. I pulled myself in, halfway in. I just stayed there for hours, hours.

SUAREZ: State officials, working to compile a list of those missing.

KEVIN GUTHRIE, DIRECTOR, FLORIDA DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: We hope to have a better number on that, going into the next couple of days.

SUAREZ: Hurricanes Ian's death toll now over 100, more than half of those deaths in Lee County, where rescuers face large areas of homes, boats and bridges shattered in Ian's wake.

SHERIFF CARMINE MARCENO, LEE COUNTY, FLORIDA: We are probably still another 3 to 4 days left in search, rescue, and recovery. But until we go through the rubble and see exactly what we have, we are not sure who is missing and what those numbers will be.

SUAREZ: County officials identified 46 of the 55 bodies recovered. One of those killed, an Ohio mother, celebrating her 40th birthday in Fort Myers who could not find transportation to leave her vacation rental before the storm.

MARCENO: These are not numbers. This is -- this is family members.

SUAREZ: For the hardest hit barrier islands, the only way in and out is by air and boat.

CAPTAIN CATHY EAGLE, BOAT TOUR GUIDE: I just dropped some people off to clean their house. I just don't get surprised.

SUAREZ: Emergency officials are racing to build a temporary bridge to connect Pine Island to Cape Coral north of Sanibel.

MARCENO: They are delivering tons of gravel as we speak starting yesterday, and possibly can have a temporary bridge in place as of this Saturday.

SUAREZ: The National Guard and a group of volunteers began and airlift of food and supplies for stranded residents.

UINIDENTIFIED MALE: We have extensive water damage.

SUAREZ: School buildings unspared. DeSoto County schools say a high school will remain closed for two months. An elementary school in Fort Myers Beach shows dust and debris everywhere. School officials may relocate students, teachers and staff.

SUPERINTENDENT CHRISTOPHER BERNIER, SCHOOL DISTRICT OF LEE COUNTY: This is not going to stop us from opening our schools as soon as we can.

SUAREZ: Further south, officials in Naples are only beginning to assess neighborhoods under water after the storm surge.

JAY BOODSHESHWAR, NAPLES CITY MANAGER: I would guess that it is probably hundreds of households that are going to be experiencing a period of time when they are not going to be able to be in their homes.


SUAREZ (on camera): And, Jake, preparations are well underway here in southwest Florida for President Joe Biden's visit tomorrow. He is expected to get a look at the damage by air and ground. The White House says he will meet with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and he is going to get a briefing by the governor. The two men will be joined on this trip by the FEMA administrator -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Carlos Suarez in Florida, thank you so much.

Today, the Biden administration is pledging to take more action in response to the protests in Iran that had been met with violence from the Iranian regime. We're going to go live to the White House, next.



TAPPER: Topping our world lead, as Ukrainian soldiers plant flags in newly re-liberated towns such as this one near the southern port city of Kherson, and ambush their Russian enemies in the east, shown here in this video from Ukraine's military, the United States today announced a new $625 million aid package for Ukraine, which brings the total price tag on U.S. aid to Ukraine close to $17 billion.

Let's bring in CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, who's in southern Ukraine for us.

And, Nick, it has been a remarkable 72 hours for Ukraine. It is Russia even admitting these losses?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: To some degree, actually, yes. But there is still a clear disparity between's Russia's political messaging and which today went through the rubberstamping of their somewhat ridiculous charade of claiming parts of Ukrainian territories now officially Russia territory, while at the same time, the Russian defense ministry released two frankly startling maps. One from Monday was distinctly different from the when they released today. And today's map showed about a quarter or a third of the territory to the west side and an important river in Ukraine, called the Dnieper, on the west side of which the Russia still holds quite a lot of territories as part of its occupation.


Well, today, they admitted they lost about a third or even a quarter of that in just the last 24 hours. That is because of consistent Ukrainian advances, moving very fast around the areas around Kherson. A town was definitely taken, and that adds to the number of places over the last 24 hours that may have gone back to Ukrainian hands.

Ukraine is pretty tight lip about its advance. They may have gone further than they're admitting publicly. But it is a startling thing after this weekend, where we saw ourselves in the eastern town Lyman, how Russia has been routed from that strategic hub. So, we now have on two separate fronts here, in the east and south, Russian forces in retreat, the southern one, particularly fast, particularly dramatic.

It has always been a key goal of Ukraine. They initially delayed it, focusing on the northeast first, but now they seem to be going for it properly and those forces are cut off from the rest of Russia's occupying force by that river, and therefore, in quite significant peril. The fact that the Russian ministry of defense put those maps out, that may suggest the military are a bit tired of the gloss being put on this by Moscow, consistently talking about annexation, partial mobilization and about victory -- things are not victorious for Russia at all.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy today passing a decree, emulating what he said publicly that they were not going to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where there is no alternative for him at the moment in Russia, and at the moment, there's no alternative on the battlefield than Ukraine's momentum moving forward, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nick Paton Walsh in Ukraine, thank you so much.

Now, to Iran and the protests there, which are getting louder and younger. Take a look at this video from a pro-reform Iranian news outlets, girls in Tehran throwing off their mandatory hijabs. And these brave junior high school students who walked out of class chanting, "death to the dictator", as Iran's supreme leader claims the United States is behind the, quote, riots.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House for us now.

And, Kaitlan, President Biden says he is, quote, very concerned about the violent crackdowns by the Iranian government on these protesters.

Is the White House planning on more concrete action than some sanctions in that state?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are expecting to do more sanctions this week, Jake. Of course, the full scope of that remains to be seen. In his statement yesterday, President Biden just said we shouldn't expect to see action this week. I am told by a source that that will come in the form of sanctions on law enforcement officials and those directly involved in the crackdown on this protests that are sweeping Iran, as you have seen.

And, Jake, that would come after sanctions already on the morality police and Iran and other actions that the United States has tried to take to restore communications there so people can get online, so it can be widespread, what is actually happening on the ground there. The last part is a bit more of a struggle.

But, Jake, it is notable to see the White House speaking out as quickly as they are, because it appears to be a lesson learned from a lot of the officials that are working for the Biden administration that worked for the Obama administration 13 years ago, when in 2009, protest for sweeping Iran. And you saw a much different response because people are actually hesitant to speak out publicly and back the demonstrators because they were worried that it would be counterproductive.

Then, of course, you see people like Jake Sullivan, now the national security adviser in the Biden administration, saying that they basically learned the lesson that it is better to speak out now, better to be more forceful and clear early on about what is happening about the support that they have for these demonstrators. That's what you have seen President Biden do as he did in the United Nations in New York. That is what he has done yesterday.

So, it remains to be seen what the full scope of the sanctions are going to look like, Jake, and where it goes from there. What kind of effect it has on the negotiations they're trying to put together to revive the Iran nuclear deal -- but you are seeing a much different response to than you were back in 2009. Of course, how that actually ends up remains to be seen.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins at the White House for us, thanks so much.

With us now to discuss Iran and more, former Hillary Clinton adviser and author, Huma Abedin.

Huma, having worked on so many foreign policy issues throughout your political tenure, including at the State Department, I just want to get your reaction to what is going on in Iran. What do you make of the Biden administration's response so far?

HUMA ABEDIN, ADVISER TO HILLARY CLINTON: Well, Jake, first of all, I was just happy to hear on the report, what Jake Sullivan just announced in terms of sanctions. I, like so many millions of people, watched with fury when Mahsa Amini was killed, essentially, after being in police custody, just for not wearing a proper hijab.

And I had goose bumps because as somebody who grew up in the Middle East, grew up in Saudi Arabia, I remember days when as a teenage girl, when I had a little hair showing, needing to cover it. And so, the notion of the courage and strength that these women are showing and really the people of Iran are showing is something to just be admired.


And this is not, as I think most Americans know, this is not about the hijab law. I mean, women in Iran have been, you know, protesting against the hijab law for, you know, on and off, somewhere or another, for the last 43 years. This is about controlling women, controlling the Iranian population and, so for me, I think, I am glad to hear the administration is coming out and supporting the demonstrations. And, you know, I try to envision if we believe that 60 percent of

college graduates are women in Iran and 70 percent are STEM graduates, if these women have the freedom to pursue whatever it is they wanted to pursue, the future of this country would be incredible.

And I was talking to an Iranian American friend earlier today and they said, this is really about the Islamic Republic versus Iranians. That to me is one of the reasons why I think we keep talking about Mahsa Amini, keep supporting the protesters and the demonstrations, and this is a spark that may lead to some change, which is clearly much needed.

TAPPER: Yeah, let's hope so. You write about growing up in Saudi Arabia, where women also are forced to cover their hair, in your book. Both and. I am holding up the hardcover. But it is now up in paperback.

You write: the verses in the Quran about modesty were not just about clothing and hair. They pertained to our code of conduct, and others who consciously made the choice themselves. The key is having the choice, unquote.

And we are seeing increasingly younger women speak up in Iran. What is your message to them and do you think that progressive women, conservative women -- I mean, man -- should there be more of an uprising in the United States in terms of marching for these girls and women, who are so brave in Iran?

ABEDIN: Well, thank you for quoting from my book because the key word that I used in every decision I made on my own is choice. And for so many Muslim girls and women, we often don't have a choice for making decisions certainly when it comes to the hijab. I happened to live in a household, or in a community where it wasn't an individual choice.

I have women in my family who chose to wear the hijab. But it is so much more about how your code of conduct is in this world. It's not just about covering your hair. It's much larger than that. People just put it in a box because they don't understand what hijab is.

But the other thing I do talk about in my book is no progress is going to be made unless men are at the table, men are supporting these choices for women, on behalf of their daughters, they're raising a whole next generation of young people. You and I both are.

And, you know, for me, I have a ten year old son. I want to raise him, not just, you know, to respect women, but not fear their power. And so much of this is fearing the potential of women's power. I think Muslim women just get put into this box of, we are all conservative. We all cut our hair. We are as diverse in the way we think, the way we act, the way we dress, as an any other religious society or community in the world.

TAPPER: Let's quickly turn to the midterms because obviously, you work in the White House in 1988. Historically, the party controlling the White House almost always loses congressional seats in the midterms. The 1988 midterms were a resounding success for Democrats because of

the perception by the public that Republicans and Congress for overreaching when it came to Clinton Lewinsky, Ken Starr, et cetera. Do you see any parallels between the 98 midterms and November's upcoming races or do you think it will be a more traditional result?

ABEDIN: I think it is a big unknown at this point. I think seeing women, and really just Americans, supporting abortion rights in this country after the Supreme Court overturned Roe in June, the enthusiasm that women registering to vote in record numbers is something to be -- not just celebrated, but also continued. I mean, June -- between June and November, that can be a lifetime.

But I am feeling defiantly optimistic. It is just continuing that enthusiasm and hoping that people turn out to vote. It is not just about the noise. There's so much noise. One of the biggest things between the 19 -- the previous, I least when I was in the White House -- they were things like social media, I think part of the challenge that we have as there is so much noise, constantly. It's like, how do you stay focused on the issues and the work?

And it's one of the reasons why we try to support as many candidates who are running for office, who are focused on the work and focused on delivering results.

TAPPER: All right. Huma Abedin, good to see you as always. The book, again, "Both/And", out in paperback now. It is a fascinating read.

In our money lead, Election Day just five weeks away, the Biden administration working overtime to keep gas prices from skyrocketing with a new plan to try to stop Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries from cutting oil production.


CNN's Alex Marquardt and Matt Egan joining us.

Alex, you are reporting that White House officials are, quote, taking the gloves off. That is my least favorite metaphor from White Houses. But anyway, according to one U.S. official, to stop this from happening. So, tell us what you're hearing what they're planning.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, that same U.S. official said that the White House, in fact, it's panicking, that this is something that they desperately do not want to happen. Cutting oil production means higher oil prices, means higher gas prices. That, of course, is something that the Biden administration does not what happened right now.

So, tomorrow, there's a meeting of the oil producing countries, this cartel known as OPEC, is ostensibly lead by Saudi Arabia. Russia is also a member. The U.S. is not a member.

What we have learned, myself and our colleagues, Natasha Bertrand and Phil Mattingly, is that there is this furious last-ditch, wide scale effort to lobby the OPEC plus oil-producing countries not to cut oil production, that senior members of the Biden administration are reaching out to members of the cartel, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The cartel could cut as much as one million dollars a day in production, that would be the biggest cut since the beginning of the pandemic.

This effort is being led by the top Biden administration official for energy, Amos Hochstein. They have also enlisted the top White House official for Middle East, Brett McGurk.

But, interestingly, they've also, just to show you how widespread this is, reached out to the treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, asking her to reach out to contemporary counterparts around the world. We actually got talking points that the White House sent to treasury that have very blunt language, suggesting that Yellen say some of this to her counterparts. They say that this would be a total disaster, would be seen as a hostile act against the United States.

This is very blunt language. The White House says that these were draft talking points and not used. But it does give insight into how nervous they are, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Matt Egan, this comes as gas prices have been inching back up. If oil production is cut, how high could prices go, do you think?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Jake, that really all depends on how deep these production cuts are from OPEC and how long they last. We've already seen hopes for a rescue from OPEC lift U.S. oil prices by $7 a barrel in just the last few days. Goldman Sachs is telling clients if OPEC goes forward and cut supply, we could see oil prices go up by $13 or $20 higher. And, of course, this does mean higher prices for consumers.

Gas prices are still down by $1 nationally from the record set in June. But they are creeping higher. The national average is up by 14 cents in the last few weeks. Some on the left are already calling for the White House to retaliate against OPEC if they cut production.

Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna, he told me that he wants President Biden to retaliate by cutting Saudi Arabia off from aviation parts, and also preventing Raytheon and Boeing from selling defense contracts to Saudi Arabia.

Ro Khanna said, quote: This is beyond the pale. They are actively policing the American people anti-stabilizing the economy. This is just outrageous. Who do they think they are?

Jake, worth noting that gas prices in his home state of California are rapidly approaching record highs. This move from OPEC could be enough to push them to fresh all-time highs.

TAPPER: All right. Matt Egan and Alex Marquardt, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, they secretly reported audio that prosecutors say reveals the Oath Keepers' violent plans to try to stop Joe Biden from taking office and keep Donald Trump in office.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics play today, federal prosecutors today unveiling secret recordings of members of the far-right militia, the Oath Keepers, discussing plans to bring weapons to Washington, D.C., to quote, fight for then President Trump. This is the first major evidence in the sedition trial of five members of the extremist group, who have been charged for their roles in the deadly Capitol attacked.

As CNN's Sara Sidner reports, prosecutors also showed new evidence of the defendants from that day, January 6.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: FBI special agent Michael Palian took the stand as the government's first witness and the seditious conspiracy case against five people affiliated with the Oath Keepers for their alleged roles in the January 6th attack.

The agent verified Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes's voice on secretly reported audio of a planning meeting the far right militia group held shortly after the 2020 election. The scratchy audio played in federal court, where cameras are not allowed.

We're not getting out of here without a fight. There's going to be a fight, Rhodes can be heard saying. But let's do it smart. And a lot to do it while President Trump is still commander-in-chief.

The recording was the first major piece of evidence prosecutors used to establish the defense, hatched the plan to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power, to keep President-elect Joe Biden from taking office, months before January 6th. So, our mission is going to be to go into D.C., but I do want some Oath Keepers to stay outside and stay fully armed and prepared to go in if they have to, Rhodes can be heard saying.

Another defendant, Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs, is also heard on the prosecutors. We have been issued a call to action from D.C. This is the moment we signed up for, he's heard saying.

Jurors also have heard secretly recorded audio of Rhodes after January 6th, trying to get a message to Trump, they said. My only regret is that they should have brought rifles. We could have fixed it right then and there, Rhodes can be heard saying about the Capitol attacked. If he is not going to do the right thing, he is going to let himself be removed illegally.

Prosecutors relied on videos to establish the defendants, some in military combat gear, we're at or in the Capitol, including new video of Thomas Caldwell.


THOMAS CALDWELL, RIOTER: Today, I wiped (ph) my ass on Pelosi's door knob.

SIDNER: Prosecutors also zeroed in on a patch Kelly Meggs wore at the Capitol that says, I don't believe in anything. I'm just here for the violence.

And showed jurors messages from a group chat on the Signal app called friends of Stone, as in, Roger Stone. It was the first evidence the jury saw of Rhodes interacting with someone close to President Trump. And in signal messages to fellow Oath Keepers days after the election, Rhodes wrote, we aren't getting through this without a civil war, too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, and spirit.

Prosecutors say some began planning for violent election night, showing text messages between Meggs and his wife while watching the results roll in. Trump wins Kentucky. I'm so nervous.

I'm going to go on a killing spree. Pelosi first.

Shut the F up. You are getting me stressed.


SIDNER (on camera): So, there was cross examination, and in that cross-examination, we heard the defendants' attorney go after the FBI agent who has been taking the stand and who has been confirming all these videos, basically saying, you can agree with me that all of the stuff that you saw in messages from Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes was actually nothing to do with January 6, but how to do with November 14th, when there was another rally here and he said the method is we saw today were actually leading up to that and January 6th was never mentioned in this case.

We also heard from Caldwell's attorney who really went after FBI agent Palian, basically saying to him, look, in the initial case that you have against his client before Rhodes was ever charged, he was thought of as the leader of the Oath Keepers. He was put out there to be someone who is leading this group. He says, not only did he not go to the Capitol, like you said he did, but he also didn't do any destruction like you said he did. So, you've got things wrong.

He tried to point out all the holes in the FBI's initial case before they revised it, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Sara Sidner, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, an entire California region on alert. The clues giving police reason to believe a string of killings may all be linked to the same person.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: The national lead now, the hunt for a possible serial killer in northern California. Five people have been shot to death between July and September of this year. Now police say two more shootings last year might be linked.

CNN's Josh Campbell reports on what might be connections in these cases.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A series of homicides is prompting fears of a possible serial killer in northern California. Six and all, according to police.

Police posted this image of a person of interest in the shootings, saying it's unclear whether it's a possible witness or suspect. Five people killed in Stockton were shot between July 8th and September 27 in similar areas, according to police.

CHIEF STAN MCFADDEN, STOCKTON POLICE: They're dimly lit. Some are close to apartment building. They're overshadowed by trees. There are places where there are not a lot of surveillance cameras, which means this person or persons were very lucky choosing where they're going, or they are doing their homework.

CAMPBELL: Now, police have linked the Stockton homicides to two early morning shootings in April of last year in nearby Oakland. In those shootings, one man died, and the second victim, a 46-year-old woman, survived.

MAYOR KEVIN LINCOLN, STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA: We're examining this case from every way -- every angle. We don't know if there is one individual or if there is a series of individuals that are responsible.

CAMPBELL: Police say they're now focusing on key commonalities and all the shootings.

MCFADDEN: It wasn't robbery. Items aren't being stolen. But they are not talking about any gang activity in the area or anything. It's just the element of surprise.

CAMPBELL: Tom O'Connor is a retired FBI agent, who worked the 2002 manhunt investigation and says police will look for links between all the crime scenes.

THOMAS O'CONNOR, FORMER FBI AGENT: Transfer evidence is what you bring to a crime scene. In very, very few cases does a person who is committing a crime not leave something behind.

CAMPBELL: The California town, now living with grief and fear. Gerry Lopez visited the neighborhood where his brother Lorenzo was gunned down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mother and father were just heartbroken from this. I wish I could have watched out for him.


CAMPBELL (on camera): And, Jake, police are not saying how these murders are connected. They are keeping that close to the vast. Like so many shootings that we have covered, the key clue often comes down to the gun itself. Modern technology allows police to connect bullet fragments to various shootings.

Of course, the major question here is even if authorities identify the guns that was used in the shootings, can they find the shooter or shooters before they strike again? Jake?

TAPPER: All right. Josh Campbell, thanks so much.

Coming up next, the rare warning to people in Japan after a ballistic missile flew over that country, launched by the rogue nation of North Korea.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, the captain of the women's national team is, quote, tired and angry. Her response to the report of horrific allegations of sexual, verbal and emotional abuse of women's soccer players that was essentially ignored by the league for years.

Plus, North Korea getting bigger and bolder, sending Japanese computers scrambling for shelter in the middle of morning rush hour. What is Kim Jong-un up to?

And leading this hour, Trump goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in his fight to stop an investigation into his actions. Trump's appeal asking the high court to reverse an appeals court ruling that gave the Justice Department access to more than 100 classified documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago home during the FBI raid back in August.

CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez joins us now with this breaking news.

And, Evan, former President Donald Trump specifically asking the court to ensure the special master appointed in the case, that special master can access more than 100 documents marked as classified. Why -- remind us, why is this so important to him?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, what he wants is the special master be able to review these documents and possibly share it with his attorney. That's what the first judge who had reviewed all these documents or who had looked at his complaint, that's what the judge had ordered.